THE TORCH - ISSUE 4 2010

From:-
TORCH TRUST, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9HL, U.K.
Telephone: (01858) 438260, Fax: (01858) 438275, email: info@torchtrust.org
Charity Number 1095904.

Contents

Greetings!

A Cup of Cold Water Is A Wonderful Gift

It was a very hot day when I went to visit my blind friend Elena in the southern region of Malawi, Central Africa. We had travelled from Blantyre for over four hours along the potholed and bumpy roads, which because of the dry season were corrugated.

The breeze coming in the land rover window felt like a hot hair dryer; the dust blew in the window continuously and by the time we arrived my throat was dry and I longed for a cool drink of water.

My friends we were visiting had been suffering along with many other visually impaired people with no food and damaged crops. Having no hope of a harvest we had gone to give them, and others, food and encouragement.

After arriving at the compound and greetings were over Elena disappeared into her small house with its grass roof. A few minutes later she emerged from the house with a blue plastic mug in her hand. "I wanted to give you a gift," she said. "We have no food. We have no harvest so I kept water in my stone jar knowing that when you came I would have something to give you. I feel ashamed it is only water but I have nothing else. Please take it."

There was a lump in my throat as I took the mug of water from her hand - my friend was giving me something that Jesus himself spoke about: "The cup of cold water given in my name shall not lose its reward". I drank the water - it was cool and I was so grateful. It was just what I had been longing for. How wonderful of the Lord to provide for my need.

I told Elena what Jesus had said in Mark 9 verse 41. "If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to me, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded."

A reward? Never, she said. Not for her a poor blind woman, living in obscurity, despised and neglected by society. She paused and thought for a moment. "You really mean it don't you?" she said. "Yes, I do", I replied. "You are precious to Jesus and what you have done he knows."

Her face lit up. She realised what she had done. "Yes, that is me," she said.

The early Christian community took these words of Jesus to heart, becoming known for their many small kindnesses toward one another and to the larger world. Sometimes we expect to earn a reward by doing a kind action, and we forget that the biggest reward may lie in having the opportunity to be a kind and loving person. In other words, the reward often comes before the act, instead of afterwards.

In this passage, Jesus encourages us to recognise him in each other's hearts, and to recognise God the Father in him.

In Jesus' time, there was no refrigeration and no way to make ice - the climate wasn't hard enough in the winter in Palestine to make ice outdoors. The only way to get cold water was to make a special trip to a well, where the water would be chilled from being deep in the ground.

A couple of questions:

1. Who do we welcome when we welcome followers of Jesus?

[We welcome Jesus himself when we welcome his followers.]

2. Does Jesus ask us to give large or expensive gifts?

[Jesus says even a cup of cold water given to a thirsty person is a great gift.]

Your giving and my giving will not go unnoticed by our Lord. He will reward us no matter how small the gift. When we do things for others, no matter how small, those deeds will not go unnoticed … even a cup of cold water given in his name.

So what are we going to give someone today? Let's look for opportunities to be generous.

I will look for some way to do something for someone today. How about you?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me help someone else. Guide me to someone that needs help today. You are the mighty God. Thank you for using someone like me. I pray that you would use me today to touch the lives of those that live around me. Amen.

Janet Stafford

Back to Contents

My Story

by Ann Murdock (part 2)

[In the first part of this story, Ann recounted how she had become involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses. She had found it frighteningly restrictive and oppressive due to the legalistic approach they took, and had extracted herself from attending all the meetings to give herself a break from it all. She continues ...]

After about 18 months, I felt so ashamed, but I was dreading going back. My lovely friends from the Kingdom Hall had called every week to encourage me back. I hadn't prayed at all during this time as I thought Jehovah was so angry with me, but one morning in desperation I finally said, "Please God will you show me why I don't want to go back to that way of life, and show me what's wrong with me."

The very next day I heard the words "born again", and over the next few weeks those words kept coming up - on TV, in books and from people God sent into my life. Like Nicodemus, I wondered how on earth I could get back inside my mum and be born again, not realising it meant a spiritual birth.

One day when walking home, a lady approached me and said, "Hello, my name's Jan. I'm in the area doing some market research. I'm born again and God has healed me of throat cancer." She gave me a tape, said goodbye and went off. The tape was by a man called Colin Urquhart, and was entitled "The Way of Salvation". It said that salvation was a free gift and all we had to do was ask Jesus to forgive our sins and ask him into our lives.

There was no way I could get my head around that. It was far too easy. What about my part? What had I got to do for God? It conflicted with everything I had been taught. It seemed too good to be true.

I must have worn that tape out, trying to make sense of it.

One morning I decided to put it to the test. I said, "Jesus, if all of what Colin is saying is true, then please forgive me for all of the things I've done wrong and come and live in me." I sat for about an hour waiting, and when nothing happened I just thought it hadn't worked.

That night Dave and I went to bed as usual but the very second I opened my eyes in the morning I knew I was different. As I stepped out of bed a power came into the top of my head and through my body. I heard heavy chains fall to the floor; the thud was so real that I looked over to see if it had woken Dave, but he was fast asleep. As I left the bedroom a voice said over and over again, "Know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32).

Everything was different. I was loving people I didn't even like, and the joy was exquisite. I decided not to tell Dave as I thought he would say, "Oh no, you have just come out of one religion, now you're back in another!" Of course, being born again isn't a religion, it's the truth, and it would have been hard explaining that to Dave. But he noticed a big difference in me - we stopped arguing ... I was always singing and full of life ... I felt like I had been given a brand new start ... the old was gone, the new had come.

I bought a reliable Bible and the first scripture I found was, "You need no one to teach you, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things." Every morning I couldn't wait till Dave had gone to work and I could read the Bible. The Holy Spirit put back the truths the Watchtower had distorted and at last it all made perfect sense. The God I was learning about now was vastly different from the God they had portrayed. I was reading about love and forgiveness. I was being set free. Jesus healed me of an illness that I'd had since Rebecca was born. It was an amazing time. I didn't know any other Christians at that time; it was just me and Jesus.

A cult is something that is very easy to get into but very difficult to come out of. I knew I wanted to be free of my involvement with the Witnesses so I wrote them a letter. Two elders visited me, and I was "dis-fellowshipped", which meant that none of my lovely best friends could ever speak to me again. Once more Jesus stepped in, filling me with his overwhelming peace which surpasses all understanding.

I found a scripture that said husbands can be won over without a word (1 Peter 3:1-2) and Dave knew something wonderful had happened to me, so it wasn't long before he said, "I don't know what you've got, but I want it too."

We now belong to a lively church in the Leicester area, and visit Torch House from time to time. I still have a lot to learn as a Christian. My favourite Bible verse is Romans 8:38:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus, wonderful Jesus.

Back to Contents

Wise Words

I will never forget you

Iri ndi mace sikugwa m'mbuna. (Chichewa language). This proverb means: "He who stays near his mother does not fall into the trap."

The child in the womb lives off the mother. When born it feeds on the mother's milk. In a time of poverty or hunger, she will do without food to ensure that her child does not go hungry. The mother carries the child on her back, holds it on her hip and teaches it its first words and steps. She rears the child by forming its attitudes, values and beliefs. When the child goes away, she will always remember it, for it is the child of her womb. Her instinct is to be loving, tender, sacrificing, and fiercely protective.

Scripture

Can a woman ever forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. (Isaiah 49:15).

God wants to reveal himself to us as much as possible. But he is so infinitely perfect and we are so limited, that he must use different ways to give us some idea of what he is like. Among the many images he used is that of "mother". Many times in Scripture, the qualities of a mother are used to convey the merciful tenderness and protectiveness of God. The Psalms use words like kindness and compassion to elicit the inner feeling which a woman feels for her children. Isaiah tells us that God consoles us as a mother and that he will never forget us. As a mother will take great pains to protect her children, so God is ever active to keep us from the dangers and traps that surround us. Jesus said that he wanted to protect the people of Jerusalem as a mother protects her chicks by taking them under her wings - but they would not let him!

Prayer

Come to us, Lord, and drive far away from us all the snares of the enemy. Guard us always in peace and let your blessings and your protection remain with us always.

Back to Contents

Here's a thought

Overcoming Fear

(by Emily from Dayspring)

"I am afraid," I hear myself say. And in so doing, I practise the presence of fear, rather than rest in the safety of God. Jesus says his Spirit within me is one of power, love and a sound mind. But he whispers, while fear is loud.

Fear screams for me to run. But God beckons me, "Come".

Fear pushes me to produce my own protection. But God whispers, "I have already overcome".

And so I stand on rock and watch as the sand sinks swiftly down.

To be love-led rather than fear-driven is to stand on the rock underneath.

Where have you placed your feet today?

Back to Contents

Old Testament Characters

by Michael Stafford

4. Abraham

We come now, in this series, to one of the most famous of all Bible characters - Abraham - a man revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Known as a man of faith and a friend of God, he stands out as a giant among the men and women of God in the Old Testament.

"The Lord said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you'". (Genesis 12:1-3)

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8).

What made Abram leave the security and comfort of the city, to go on a journey to a place he knew nothing about? It was simply that he believed God had told him to go, and could be trusted to protect and provide for him, his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot. God honoured Abram because of his faith and credited him with righteousness, so that he became known as the friend of God (James 2:23). Faith inspired obedience, and James referred to this when he said, "You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:22).

The Lord Jesus said to his disciples (John 15:14): "You are my friends if you do what I command". It is always the case that God looks for faith proved by obedience in order to regard us as his friends. Someone has likened faith and obedience to our two feet. With both feet we can walk, but with only one we cannot. To walk with God we need both feet - faith and obedience.

Abraham's faith was to be tested in many ways, and he did not always pass the test. For example, when famine affected the land of Canaan, he felt it expedient to go to Egypt where there was food, instead of trusting God to provide. This led him into a difficult situation as he feared for his safety and encouraged his wife to lie and say she was his sister, in order to avoid the risk of her attractiveness causing other men to want to take her and get rid of him! (Genesis 12:10-20). One would have hoped that he would have learned his lesson, but Abraham was human like the rest of us, and made the same mistake later in life when he moved to Gerar (Genesis chapter 20).

God forgave him, but Abraham was troubled by the fact that his wife, Sarah, had had no children, and they were both now elderly and she was past normal child-bearing age. God had promised Abraham that he would become a great nation, but how could this happen when he had no children? But such was his relationship with God that his complaint to the Almighty resulted in an incredible promise - that his descendents would be as many as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky. The fact that Abraham believed God's promise, despite its impossible fulfilment, further shows us what a man of faith he was. God always honours his promises, and a son was born to Sarah and named Isaac (laughter). Sadly Sarah's faith did not match Abraham's, and she had laughed at the apparent absurdity of God's promise. (Genesis 18:10-12).

Some time later God tested Abraham ... God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains." ... Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife ... Isaac spoke up and said to his father ... "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb." Abraham ... took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him ... "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Genesis 22:1-12)

Abraham proved his faith and obedience in a spectacular way when God asked him to do something which we, in our present generation, would consider to be outrageous. However, in his day, it was common among the pagan religions for children to be sacrificed to prove the devotion of the parent to a pagan god. In effect, God was saying to Abraham: "if people can do this for a dead, useless idol, are you willing to do it for me, the living God?". Of course it was a test, and God never intended for Abraham to actually kill his son, Isaac.

This is a wonderful picture of what God has done for us: he gave his one and only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. Isaac was not a child by this time. He was strong enough to have run away when he knew what his father was about to do, but he was willing to be a sacrifice. Jesus, likewise, could have escaped crucifixion but was willing to do the father's will. The big difference between Isaac and Jesus is that Isaac was set free and God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice. Jesus, however, was not set free - "He endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2).

Isaac's question: "Where is the lamb", really sums up the whole of the Old Testament which was looking forward to a Saviour. The New Testament is summed up in the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for you and me, and we can be set free from sin and condemnation.

Back to Contents

Young Searchers' League

We congratulate the following people who have successfully completed Bible study correspondence courses:

Part 1: The Four Gospels and Acts

Grant Kamwely (Malawi), Philip O Idowu (Nigeria).

Part 3A: The Law Books - Genesis-Deuteronomy

Kudakwashe Mubhonderi (Zimbabwe).

Part 3B: The Historical Books - Joshua-Esther

Idris Usman Leakey (Nigeria).

Advanced Series 1:2: What the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ

K K Valsan (India).

Advanced Series 1:4: What the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit

Oliyinka Gbadamosi (Nigeria).

Advanced Series 1:5: What the Bible teaches about Man and Sin

Irene McMinn (Australia).

Advanced Series 2:4: What the Bible teaches about Christian Behaviour

Matthew Omirigwe (Nigeria).

Advanced Series 2:5: What the Bible teaches about missionary responsibility

Matthew Omirigwe (Nigeria).

Special congratulations to Matthew who has now completed the whole course.

Back to Contents

Penfriends bulletin

Here are some people who would like to correspond with others. You may like to braille a letter to one of them. Introduce yourself by giving your name, your correct postal address, your age, and some information about yourself, your family and your country.

Anybody reading this who would like us to include their name and information in our next bulletin, send in your full name, postal address, age, and tell us about the things you enjoy doing. The aim of having a penfriend is to develop a friendship and exchange information and ideas.

FRANCIS CHARLES MTONYAH, searchlight Ministries, PO Box 104, Searchlight, Migowi, Malawi, Africa. Francis is 29 years old, one of four children in his family. He reads using large print and braille.

SURENDRAN EV, Eezhapparambil House, Mullampath Post, Kakkattil Way, Kozhikkode District, Kerala State, India. This is a 27-year old man who likes reading novels, religious books and articles etc. He also likes visiting socially poor people. He has an MA Degree in history and also an education degree. He would like to correspond in English braille.

JACOB AUGUSTO, Bangwe Weaving Factory, Box 51030, Limbe, Malawi. Jacob is 36 years old, a carpenter. He enjoys listening to the radio, reading, going to church and telling stories to children. He would like letters in print or on tape.

HUGGINS PHIRI, Phazi Community Day Seco. School, Private bag 2, Luwelezi, Mzimba, Malawi, Africa. This man is 39 and married. He teaches pupils in Grade 1. He enjoys reading, listening to music, going to church, chatting and gospel music.

Back to Contents